An Unfair Advantage: Victory in the Midst of Battle

Day 5 of 7 • This day’s reading


Valley of the Shadow of Death

When you find yourself in an impossible situation, you often think you are alone. God loves to use those who are willing to take a first step despite their fear—those steps of faith that can lead us to experience victory. But how is it done?

One of the best examples I can give is of Jonathan, the son of King Saul of Israel. First Samuel 14:1–23 tells one of my all-time favorite battle scenes. Jonathan’s father and the Israelite army were hiding in caves in the mountains after having lost a battle against their enemy, the Philistines. As the king and the army sat in fear, Jonathan recognized that someone had to go first, so he made a bold decision. Without telling his father or anyone else, he asked his armor-bearer to sneak with him into the enemy’s camp and bring the fight to the bad guys.

As they began their trek, Jonathan said to his armor-bearer, “Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few” (v. 6). Jonathan’s armor-bearer replied, “Do all that you have in mind . . . I am with you heart and soul” (v. 7). The two quietly reached the Philistines’ camp, entered the enemy barracks, and killed twenty men, creating a panic in their ranks. In the dark, the Philistines didn’t know who or how many had attacked them.

Once King Saul could hear the fighting and the Philistines shouting in panic and found Jonathan and his armor-bearer gone, he and all his men rushed out to the battle and found the Philistines killing each other. The Israeli army joined the fight; even Hebrews who had deserted joined in conquering the Philistines. They won a great battle that day because one man led the way.

When you find yourself in an impossible situation, you may feel scared and think you are completely alone. But you are not. Others have that same fear, feel equally hopeless, and think they are alone. Many times I have been in fear of my life, feeling all alone and not sure where to go next. I have no doubt that as Jonathan and his armor-bearer climbed the mountainside to face the impossible odds, they had the same thoughts. But they were not alone. It is always easier for us to focus on ourselves and miss that fact that many around us are facing similar struggles—like King Saul and the Israelites who needed a brave warrior to start the fight. We all need a leader to follow, but you will need to be that leader at times. Someone must go first.

It was not only Jonathan’s courage to lead but also his steadfast and unwavering faith in the Lord that gave him an unfair advantage. He inspired others to follow him into the battle and find victory for the nation of Israel.